Zero to Whoa in 8 Weeks

October 25, 2007

Here’s a fun story about Queen Bee Creations.

They’re a hot company here in Portland that makes tres cool bags (amongst other things), and they’re growing like crazy.  They desperately needed a new website to support their burgeoning business, and no off-the-shelf e-commerce system could do the job right.  Besides requiring 100% creative control over the presentation of their site, they needed a system for managing retail and wholesale customers, tools to match their manufacturing and fulfillment processes, and a platform that would scale with their business through the holiday season and beyond.

That was eight weeks ago, and today they’re open for business.  We couldn’t have done it without a great client, or the kick ass design team at Fresh Fruit.

And we definitely couldn’t have done it without UpSale, the e-commerce platform we built specifically for growing retailers who need sophisticated tools and a high degree of customization.  We’re excited by how quickly it let us build the Queen Bee site, and with two more sites coming down the pipeline, it’s turning out to be everything we hoped it would.

Anyhow.  Enough self promotion.  Queen Bee Creations has gorgeous products and is run by fantastic people, and I’m thrilled we were able to work with them on this project.



Kozmo Rises Again?

May 23, 2007

I don’t know how I missed this, but the CTO of started MaxDelivery … which is like Kozmo, but with a limited number of products, and a less ambitious distribution scheme.

I still think the basic premise of Kozmo is valid — satisfying the instant gratification urge by delivering stuff to you in under an hour.  It’s just finding the right group of people who are willing and able to pay a premium for commodity items, and who reflexively turn to their computer when they want something.

Hmm.  Sound like anyone you know?

Building an e-commerce site?  Want to figure out what features to focus on?  Jakob Nielsen has a quick Top 10 list for “high profit redesign priorities,” backed up by a rather shocking amount of research on the subject.  Granted, you’ll have to pay for the in depth reports, but the summary is free.

  1. E-Mail Newsletters
  2. Informative Product Pages
  3. High Quality Photography
  4. Product Differentiation and Comparison
  5. Support for Reordering
  6. Simplified Text
  7. Catering to Seniors
  8. Gift Giving Support
  9. User Testing

Read s’more … 

Google Pay Per Action

March 20, 2007

Alright! Looks like Google is beta testing a pay-per-action advertising system. This is a good thing for online businesses that generate money through visitors actions on their website — checking out a shopping cart, signing up for a mailing list, that sort of thing.

This is the logical next step in online advertising.

We started with pay-per-impression, where an advertiser pays every time their ad is displayed on someone’s web page. This isn’t particularly favorable for advertisers, because they’re paying whether or not someone is paying attention to their ads.

The solution to that problem was pay-per-click, where an advertiser pays every time their ad is clicked on. That pretty much guarantees that the person who clicked found something compelling in the advertisement, which provides advertisers a really great way to figure out what ads were most effective, and ties the cost of their advertising directly to the public’s interest. The downside for advertisers is that click through doesn’t guarantee a conversion, and so a really great ad would end up costing a heap of money if the website didn’t fulfill the user’s hopes and dreams.

Which brings us to pay-per-action, where an advertiser only pays when someone clicks an advertisement AND follows through with a particular action — like checking out a shopping cart, or signing up for a mailing list.

I dig it. Right now is a probably a great time to get into pay-per-action, because there aren’t many businesses competing for keywords and placement, so there’s probably some good deals to be had.

Shopping Comparison Redeux

December 4, 2006

The International Herald Tribune has an article on a new breed of shopping comparison sites, competing against, ShopZilla, and PriceGrabber. From the article:

Jellyfish, TheFind and MyTriggers … are taking advantage of what some executives say is increasing discomfort with the pay-per-click model, which has grown more expensive as marketers bid more aggressively for premium space alongside search results. On these new sites, advertisers typically pay only when someone actually buys something or when users view an ad, as will soon be the case with TheFind.”

Instead of cost-per-click, these new shopping comparison sites charge per conversion. Jellyfish, in particular, is doing something very cool: merchants bid for placement for specific products (like iPods or snowshoes), and a significant part of their bid is credited to the shopper as a discount on the item they purchase. It’s a good deal for merchants because they can control exactly what their conversion costs are, and it’s a great deal for shoppers because they save a little extra cash.

Black Friday

November 15, 2006

Well, Black Friday is right around the corner.  Over a third of the adult population in the United States is shopping online this year — that’s almost one hundred million people buying gifts on the Internet.

If you or your e-commerce clients are gearing up for the holiday shopping season, it’s not too late to get in on the action.  For example, check out our Google Holiday Package — give us an hour of your time, and we’ll put your best products in front of millions of shoppers.  It even comes with a cash back performance guarantee.

In fact, we offer performance guarantees for all of our marketing services, and incentives for web developers, designers, and agencies who consider outsourcing their search engine marketing efforts.

Sound interesting? Answer a short questionaire about your business, and let’s get the ball rolling.

Google Base Gets Better

November 1, 2006

Life just got a little easier.

If you upload bulk product lists for Google Base, you can now add AdWords data to the file. Which means if you’ve automated the creation of those product lists, you can automate the creation of targeted ads specifically for those products. Why is this a good thing?

Highly targeted ads are the secret to making AdWords pay off. Say, for example, your store sells jackets. If you buy an AdWords campaign for the keyword “Jacket” you’re going to drive a huge amount of traffic to your site … but how many of those visitors will actually buy the jackets you have? How many of them were looking to buy a jacket in the first place?  Not many.  With that approach to advertising, you’re going to spend a lot, and you’re not going to get much in return.

Product targeted ads are different. If you sell the North Face Denali jacket, and you buy AdWords campaigns for the keywords “north face denali jacket”, and your ad mentions that you sell the North Face Denali jacket at a good price … the majority of the people who click on your ad are going to be people who want to buy the jacket. Higher conversion rates means higher ROI, and that’s exciting for Internet retailers.

Thanks, Google, for making my life that much easier (and my customers that much happier).